Eleven years and three camera bodies ago…

Medicine Lake, Jasper, tourism Jasper, mountains, lake, reflection, landscape, horizontal, dan Jurak, Alberta, rockies,

Is it the camera or the person behind the camera?

Anyone who has taken photos for a while knows what the answer is.

A new lens or camera body seldom means that your photos improve.

I grew up learning photography with film. It was such a slow and tedious process, especially if you exposed transparencies like I did. Kodachrome had to be sent away and it wasn’t until three or four weeks later that my mistakes were obvious. Over exposed. Under exposed. Badly composed. There’s a good one. Rinse and repeat.

It was also expensive to buy a roll of film and have it processed. I wasn’t into black and white at the time. It wasn’t until a few years later when I enrolled in a two year program to learn photography that I was force to shoot and process them.

Quality black and white prints have a distinct look to them. Different from digital black and whites. In my eye, not better or worse. Just different.

Early on a 35mm film body and standard lens limited and at the same time helped my photography. Learning to “see” one focal length is a good thing.

Fast forward thirty or so years and my film cameras were put away. No more having to take photos at work. Photography wasn’t important to me any longer. When shooting fashion or food at work the idea of using a camera on the weekend seemed like more work to me. Landscapes were but a distant memory.

As I have written before, it was only because my daughters were playing intramural sports in school that I bought a digital camera. A tiny (by todays standards) ten megapixel Canon Rebel. I hadn’t used a digital camera before and there certainly was a novelty factor being able to see what you had just taken on the camera display.

Because I had been using Photoshop daily at work for close to twenty years, processing images was second nature. On a slow day at work when there was not much happening between assignments I stumbled upon the photo sharing website Flickr. The more I studied the images the more interested I became in landscapes again. They looked so different from what I had grown up viewing.

Landscapes became interesting again. I would drive out during the evenings after work and rediscovered the passion that I had lost.

Looking back on some of those early images I found quite a few that sucked and the odd one that I really liked.

HDRs were a big deal at the time. Probably because I liked to shoot into the sun and the camera sensors at the time didn’t have the exposure latitude that todays cameras do.

The image at the top of this post was taken in 2007. A single exposure, it shows what can result when you shoot within the limitations of your camera gear.

The camera body that I use today has a much better sensor. The lenses are sharper. The image file is way, way bigger but today like so many years ago it is the person that is behind the camera more than the camera itself.

That is important to remember when you see an incredible image and read that it was taken with Brand X camera body, Brand Y lens and so on. W

Your improvements in photography will come as a result of you improving more than the next bit of camera equipment that you buy.

Todays semi-professional DSLRs are more than most people need and that might explain the popularity of smartphone cameras. It is still the person and not the camera.

Happy shooting,




~ by Dan Jurak on May 8, 2018.

4 Responses to “Eleven years and three camera bodies ago…”

  1. Well I agree again 100 percent. I still use film. Been using film since my days in commercial photography 37 yrs ago. Using my Hasselblad and my 4×5 love them both.

  2. More power to you Bruce :).

    We pursue photography for ourselves and it sounds like film works for you.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

  3. I just saw the above comment and respect those who still use film. One woman at our church regularly records events , all on a camera with film. Thirty six photos. i wonder if I could keep it to 36. I have given away my older point and shoot cameras and still use my first DSLR (about 11 yr old) and bought a cheaper longer lens for short depth of field and birding though re- invested in a glass lens that is sharper. With impending cataracts i need all the sharpness I can get. Yes, someone saw a photo of mine and commented that I must have a good camera. i had to laugh and did comment that I have a camera I like and that I practice seeing. Lastly, your image has an interesting point of view of one of my favourite spots with its many moods.

  4. Hi Jane,
    I have nothing against film in the same way that I have nothing against the rotary phone that I grew up using or a washing machine with a wringer on the top of it or for that matter the clothesline that we used to hang clothes up with. They all do their job. 🙂

    Not only is your church friend limited to 36 exposures but she is paying for all the photos that she doesn’t like or don’t turn out.

    For me, digital is a better choice and for those that choose to use film, good on them but thats not my thing anymore.

    Medicine Lake is a peaceful place. I just recently saw a photo taken after the fires there where there was a carpet of yellow flowers among the charred trees. I just have to get out this summer to see that.


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